Friday, August 27, 2010

Stock Your Pantries! Restaurant Quality Meals on a Stay at Home Budget!

As many of you know, I am quite addicted to the Food Network and its delicious variety of food, fun, and chefs. As such, I've also become quite enamoured by Gordon Ramsey's latest show "Master Chef."

But all this Food TV has made me aware of my own shortcomings in the kitchen.

Especially when I watch Master Chef, or another favourite, Next Food Network Star, where the contestants - many of whom are home cooks - are thrown into situations where they have to create their food based on an individual point of view.

This got me thinking.

If I was on a show like that and had to create my own dishes, what would my culinary point of view be? Fresh ingredients? Healthy meal planning? New takes on old classics?



Which brings me to my latest bright idea (a girl needs a hobby right?): To cook meals based on my own recipes, ideas, and point of view and share them here - both the hits and misses - with the long term goal of self publishing my very own cookbook for friends and family.

But what's my point of view?

I want to show people that you can eat incredibly well without having to spend a lot of money. And that everyday dinners can be turned into spectacularly foodtastic events using an array of interesting ingredients readily available at most grocery stores or from your garden.



With a pinch of magic and a creatively stocked pantry, I'll show you how to create fresh and flavourful restaurant quality meals on a stay at home budget starting with a blog I'm posting later today for Asian Wasabi Burgers.

So hang onto your spatulas and join me for the ride! Whether the recipes turn out good, bad, or ugly, the fun will be in the learning.

To get us started I'm going to list the pantry staples I will be using. I find that once a pantry is well stocked, food shopping becomes quite simple.

Pantry (Click here for printable pantry shopping list)

All purpose Flour
Whole Wheat flour
Baking soda
Baking powder
Corn Starch
Brown Sugar
White sugar
Icing Sugar
Honey
Unsweetened Cocoa
Oatmeal
Slivered unsalted almonds
Roasted unsalted cashews
Canned mandarin orange slices
Canned pineapple
Canned tomatoes
Canned tuna
Red and white wine
Tomato paste
Black olives
Capers
Beans
Chick peas
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Canola oil
Toasted sesame oil
White vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Hoisin sauce
Sweet chili sauce
Garlic chili sauce
Hot sauce
HP sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Soy Sauce
Low Sodium chicken stock
Low sodium beef stock
Chutney
Jam
Peanut butter
Cranberry jelly
Dried cranberries
Dijon Mustard
Horseradish
Mayonaisse
Regular mustard, ketchup, relish
Pasta
Rice
Panko bread crumbs
Chow mein noodles
Dried mushrooms
Unsalted soda crackers

Dried Spices
(these are the spices I use a lot - to get you started, though, I've highlighted the spices I see as essential)

Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder

Ginger
Curry Powder
Chili powder
Cumin
Nutmeg
Basil
Oregano
Cinnamon
Thyme
Paprika
Bay leaves
Wasabi paste
Tarragon
Five Spice
All Spice
Celery Salt
Montreal Steak Spice
Marjoram
Fennel seeds
Rosemary
Sage
Dried parsley
Basil
Cayenne pepper
Red pepper flakes
Herbes de Provence (nice to have)
Truffle oil (nice to have)

Produce essentials

Fresh garlic
Fresh ginger
Jalapeno peppers
Lemons
Onions
Shallots
Potatoes - Different varieties
Fresh parsley
Cilantro
Celery
Carrots
Tomatoes
Mushrooms
Greens
Lettuce
Green onions
Peppers
Avocado

Dairy

Butter
Sour cream
Milk
Soy milk
Feta cheese
Cheddar cheese
Parmesan cheese
Yogurt
Protein powder
Eggs
Bacon

Freezer

Blueberries
Ground flax
Peas
Corn
Variety of bread and buns
Soft burrito shells
Chicken: boneless breasts, whole roaster
Salmon filets
White fish filets
Prawns
Ground beef
Ground turkey
Pork tenderloin
Pork Chops
Steaks

I know it seems like a lot. But once you have these basics well stocked and make a commitment to not eat out, your grocery bill will shrink in the long run while you eat incredibly delicious high quality meals!

Stay tuned for the Asian Wasabi Burgers!

Boo!

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